Paul Smith is well-known to jazz fans for his sterling accompaniment on a number of Ella Fitzgerald's best albums, particularly Ella in Berlin. But the veteran pianist has recorded quite a bit on his own, though few of his LPs (like this Warner Bros. album from the 1960s) have been reissued on CD. Joining him on this trio date are bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks (who worked alongside Smith with Ella) and drummer Frank Capp. The music swings throughout this live session taped at the Hunting Horn, mixing numerous standards (including a romp through "Laura"), overlooked gems (such as a furious but intricate rendition of Rodgers & Hart's "Mountain Greenery" that reveals Smith's love of classical music), and imaginative treatments of current pop tunes such as "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and "Fly Me to the Moon." Of special interest is his anything but mundane approach to the often-recorded "Satin Doll"; Smith interpolates a number of tunes into this warhorse, including "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Gershwin's "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'." This long unavailable record will not be easy to find, but it is well worth acquiring.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden